Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives


Designing El Monumento

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    Scott Adams stands near the entrance to El Monumento, a new restaurant that will be opening in Georgetown this summer. (Photos by Carlos Barron)
    Carlos Barron Jr
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    The restaurant has a parking lot made of decomposed granite and landscaping that features native plants.
    Carlos Barron Jr
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    Adams designed the timber elements in the courtyard, which features a variety of plants and water features.
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    The entrance to the dining area comes off a deck overlooking the San Gabriel River.
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    The main dining area has a "warehouse" feel that is compatible with the historic district. Glass helps blend the inside and the outside.

Southwestern graduate helped design Georgetown’s newest upscale restaurant

Georgetown residents are eagerly awaiting the opening of the town’s newest upscale restaurant – El Monumento.

The restaurant, which will serve Mexican cuisine, is co-owned by the same person who owns Georgetown’s popular Monument Café. It is being built on a site just north of the Monument overlooking the San Gabriel River.

One of the architects who helped design the restaurant was Scott Adams, a 1997 Southwestern graduate. Adams has worked for the past 12 years at Overland Partners, a San Antonio design firm that does work for clients all over the world. Last year he was made an associate principal at the firm.

“Our firm is known for modern, sustainable designs, so when a project like this one comes up, our name comes up,” Adams said.

Adams served as team leader on the design phase of the project, did the architectural drawings for the restaurant, and has been coming to Georgetown every two to three weeks to see how the construction is going.

In designing the new restaurant, Adams said his firm had to walk a fine line between being “too modern” and “too traditional.”

To help give the building a historical feel since it is located in Georgetown’s Historic Overlay District, they used old bricks that were reclaimed from another building in central Texas. The inside of the restaurant has a simple “warehouse” feel that also is in keeping with the historic district.

However, the building also has many modern features that are designed to make it energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.

When the owners approached his firm about designing the restaurant, Adams said they were looking for something more than just a place where people come to have dinner. “Our firm is interested in the experience, and that is what they wanted as well,” he said.

Adams said the experience at El Monumento starts as soon as you step out of the car and notice that the restaurant does not have a traditional parking lot. Rather, the parking lot is made of decomposed granite. This will help with runoff and also help reduce the “heat island” effect that can be caused by parking lots.

From the parking lot, patrons will pass into an intimate courtyard with a variety of plants and water features. Rammed earth walls surrounding the courtyard will help reduce noise from the street.

The main entrance to the restaurant – which features a massive fireplace – comes off a deck overlooking the river. “The owners wanted customers to experience the whole restaurant before they even get to the entrance,” Adams said. The restaurant has a giant open kitchen just like the Monument Café.

In April, Adams gave some current architecture students at Southwestern a preview of the new restaurant.

“It let us know what we have the capability of accomplishing,” said Chandler Johnson, who just completed his first year in the architecture program.

Adams was majoring in biology and planning to go to medical school before he took an architecture studio class his senior year at Southwestern. “Buildings have always been interesting to me and that class rekindled my interest in them,” he said.

Adams earned his master’s degree in architecture at Texas A&M University and was hired at Overland Partners a few months after graduation. Other projects he has designed recently include the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, Okla., and a new train station and plaza in Houston’s Hermann Park. He currently is designing a resort in Saudi Arabia for a member of the royal family.

Adams said his biology background has not gone to waste. “It’s been helpful for the current focus on sustainable architecture,” he said. Other skills he learned at Southwestern – such as the ability to write well and speak well – also have helped him in dealing with clients.

“There are a lot of architects out there – it’s how you sell yourself that is critical in getting projects,” he said.

As El Monumento nears completion, Adams said he is pleased with how restaurant has turned out.

“My job is to imagine what it will be like to experience a building,” he said. “It is so much different to actually experience it. This is much more than I hoped for.”